FAQs - What a Great Dog! Training Center

WAGD utilizes positive, reward based training methods in all of our classes and private lessons.  No previous experience is needed for our beginner level classes. We’re excited to share how fun AND effective positive training is with people new to the techniques!

We are sometimes asked why we don’t recommend using punishment during training.  We’re happy to report that it simply isn’t needed, and can cause some serious side effects (known as behavioral fallout).  This 2021 position statement from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior gives the reasons for this, with the support of a multitude of scientific studies. 

Yes, all dogs are required to be up to date on vaccinations, per your veteranarian’s recommended protocol for your dog. When you sign the WAGD Liability Waiver, you are also agreeing to keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date during the time you are attending class. Puppies are required to have had their second set of vaccinations at least five days prior to coming to WAGD.

WAGD does not require you to provide proof of the vaccinations. We treat this topic exactly the way all dog shows do. We do not collect vaccination records, but we do reserve the right to request proof at any time.

If you’re missing just one week in your six week Pet Manners class, we recommend using your class guidebook to work through that week’s exercises and practice at home. If you’ll miss two weeks out of the six, or you are missing just one week but feel that you could use the extra help, we recommend that you schedule a private makeup lesson (extra fee applies).

Because our classes run full and they are on different weeks of the curriculum, we are not able to offer makeups by dropping in another group class.  Our private makeup lessons can be a great choice for covering missed material. Make-up privates are offered at a discounted price of $40/half hour. To qualify for that discount, the make-up must be scheduled prior to the conclusion of your group class.

The first week of a level one class is especially information packed. Every effort should be made to attend week 1. If you’re unable to attend week 1 of a Manners 1 class, we require a private make-up session. Our classes are action packed and cover a lot of material. If you start out behind, it will be difficult to catch up. If you miss more than one week of the six week class, you are required to take a private makeup lesson in order to be eligible to promote to the next level of our Pet Manners program.

Having the whole family on the same page is certainly the best place to be. But our recommendation is that you involve your children who are under 12 years old in the homework, rather than having them do the work during class time. The class is fast paced and taught at an adult level. You won’t have time to translate instructions to your child and get all your reps in. The dog will do best with an adult initially training the behavior. Then, your children can help with the at-home practice reps to solidify the behavior. It will be less stressful for the dog and more fun for your children that way.

Here are our facility rules regarding children:

  • 7 years and younger: we require that an extra adult be in attendance for children this age
  • 8 – 11 years: are allowed to observe if they are quiet and stay with the parent (and may be able to assist you in class with approval from the instructor). Please bring a quiet toy to occupy them. Please note that children this age may not be responsible for controlling the dog (i.e. no holding the leash).
  • 12 and over: at the discretion of the instructor, if the this age child has control of the dog, they may be allowed to independently handle a dog in class, with an adult present in the ring
If your dogs or puppies are littermates: 
We do NOT allow littermates to enroll in the same Class Readiness Evaluation or Manners 1 class. They must take those separately. After Manners 1, they can do an evaluation together to see if they can potentially go into the same Manners 2 class.

If your dogs live in the same house, but are not littermates:
If they are closer in age than one year age, we treat them as littermates. Typically, dogs raised together from a young age have the same level of attachment as littermates raised together. That attachment makes it difficult for the dogs to focus on their handlers in a group class setting. If your dogs have an age gap of at least a year, they CAN take the Class Readiness Evaluation together to determine if they are able to focus sufficiently to attend the same Manners class. 

Dogs with true aggression issues toward humans are better served one-on-one, with a behavioral specialist, either at your home or in their quiet facility. Our busy facility is not a safe environment for an aggressive dog. If your dog has bitten someone, or gives an aggressive display (growling, snapping) when confronted with strange people, let us know and we’ll give you a referral to one of the excellent behavioral specialists in this area.

You are not guaranteed a spot in the next level, and the classes do fill quickly. We recommend that you enroll in the next level class as soon as possible to ensure a spot.

We do recommend that all dogs take both Manners 1 AND 2. Those that stop after level 1 often find a regression in the trained behaviors over time. That second class really helps solidify the awesome new behaviors you’ve trained in Manners 1. Manners 2 also trains the behaviors you’ll need for your dog to be a good citizen in public. As a matter of fact, after completing Manners 2, you are eligible to take the AKC Canine Good Citizen© evaluation by signing up for a CGC test class.

Group class is primarily about adding great new behaviors to your dog’s repertoire. However, there are some common problems such as jumping up and leash pulling which are covered in Manners 1. Problem behaviors beyond these common issues, are typically more appropriately covered in a private lesson.

However, you are always welcome to ask your group class instructor for tips on problem behaviors. Depending on the issue, she may be able to give you some quick tips. If the issue warrants more than a quick answer, your instructor will likely suggest a private session, or even a referral to a behavior specialist for help with your problem.

Dogs and people do learn at different rates. Also, some of the handlers in your class may have  previous training experience. If you’re not progressing as fast as you’d like, we encourage you to study the class manual carefully. Be sure you are correctly and consistently applying the suggested techniques and devoting adequate time to practice. We recommend a minimum of 15 minutes EVERY day. Multiple short sessions can be easier for young dogs.

You may also elect to schedule a private session to get individual help on your issues. Often a private session or two can make a big difference.

Our Pet Manners group classes can be a good start for training the obedience behaviors needed by service dogs with public access. However, we do not offer specific training or certification for service dogs.

The requirements and laws surrounding service dogs can be confusing. We often get questions on this topic. This comprehensive article explains the ins and outs of service dog access. The U.S. government website for the ADA also has good information on on this topic: www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html.

We do not offer rentals to groups. Our rings stay very busy with WAGD classes and privates. However, we do have meeting rooms at both locations that are sometimes available for dog related groups to conduct meetings that don’t include dogs in attendance. Contact us for more info. 

If you want your spot on the roster held for you, yes you will need to pay. We do require you to pay for your spot every week that class is held. The per visit cost of the Ongoing classes is less than regular series classes or drop-ins. This accounts for the fact that it is a longer term commitment and that you’ll likely miss some classes.

If you’d like to drop the class, then re-enroll when you return, you may do that. We do require a full week’s notice prior to dropping. Also, those on the waitlist will have the opportunity to enroll in that class, possibly filling your spot. You can be added back to the roster no more than 1 week prior to your return. This prevents us from running classes with open slots, when their are students anxious to join that class. It may sound like we are sticklers. But, we need to be fair to our instructors and our business. Thank you for understanding.

Yes, you are welcome to attend Ongoing classes as a drop-in. Two criteria need to be met. First, you’ll need to have instructor approval that the class level is appropriate for you and your dog. Second, you’ll need to call the office to determine if there is space in the class that day. You may do this up to one day in advance. The fee is $30 for a drop-in. Please note that most of our Ongoing classes run full. So, you may find that you are unable to drop-in to many classes.

If you’d rather not join the roster, but simply want to attend on a more sporadic basis, you can opt to do drop-ins. A drop-in is only allowed when a class isn’t full. Spaces are not held for drop-in students. Also, you must have instructor approval, to ensure that the class is an appropriate level. The process for dropping-in is first to ask the instructor for approval. Then you can call up to one day prior to the class meeting to hold a drop-in spot, if its available. The cost for a drop-in is $30.

People often choose to join a roster for their main class, then do Drop-Ins when their schedule allows (and openings exist) for extra classes for extra practice.

Yes, you are charged for each week that the class is held.

There’s no problem with taking a break from class. But, we cannot hold your spot on the roster. Toward the end of your break, contact us to get added back to the roster ONE WEEK (but no more) prior to starting back. This prevents us from running classes with open slots, which would be unfair to the instructors and the business. Give us a call when you’re ready to return and we’ll work hard to find an appropriate spot in class for you! 

Most students choose to continue paying for their spot, if they will miss just a week or two. However, you are always welcome to come off the roster. Just understand that another student will be able to claim that spot.